Hooray, the kids are in bed, the school lunches are packed, the hamsters have been cleaned out, the mountain of washing has been put away so I can briefly tell you about my weekend...
8 of us Mums went on a wonderful trip to Brighton. I've had about 5 people ask me today if it was for a hen do, a birthday or a special occasion, but no, it was just a chance to get away and recharge our batteries.
The Brighton Fringe festival was on, which meant that there were lots of fun things happening on every street corner. Even the Morris Dancers looked cool when it happened in Brighton! We went to see a comedy show on the Friday and went dancing at the Concorde 2, which is an old nightclub in the railway arches, overlooking the sea. And we had fish and chips and bubbly on the beach- heaven.
I really did miss my little ones and I had a lovely big hug from them both when I returned on Sunday. But I have to say, I appreciated having a little bit of time to myself soo much. I spent a couple of hours just lying on my bed, reading my kindle and it was just what I needed.
I also had the chance to mooch in some wonderful, quirky shops. Brighton is vintage heaven.
My favourite housey shop was The Lollipop Shoppe. Oh my, I had my nose pressed up against the window, drooling at all the design classics in there. Eames DSR chairs, marimekko, la mela screenprint (as above),
and look at this special edition hang it all...sigh
and this lovely facemaker!
I also had a great time wandering through an enormous fleamarket with my friend, where we spent ages ohhing and aahing at all the vintage treasures, typewriters, Homepride dolls, jewellery, clothes, records, you name it, they had it. It was like Aladdin's cave in there.
Then we did a bit of clothes shopping and had lots of fun looking at 50s dresses in Dollydagger and Get Cutie. I am more of an up and down figure than a classic curvy 50s shape, so I tried on absolutely loads of dresses before I found one that fit me perfectly. It's this pencil dress, which has a Mexican day of the dead pattern on it. Hard to describe, sort of crazy dancing skeletons in wedding dresses lol. I can appreciate it is a bit of a marmite purchase...
Image: Get Cutie
So, I had a wonderful time, but am also very glad to be home. have been pottering around the garden today, making cakes and having lots of cuddles with my little ones.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend and enjoy the sun over the next few days!
Wow, I heard this song last night for the first time and I was in bits!
I am very happy with my 2 little ones, but this song reminded me of the magic of pregnancy and all the excitement of meeting your baby for the first time. Best ever moments of my life were seeing my babies and feeling a huge love explosion! It made me feel the tiniest bit broody for another one.
Ed Sheeran- Small Bump
I am going away for the weekend with some Mummy friends, this is the first time I've left them both and I'm doing my best not to cry! Not doing very well though...it's much harder than I expected.
Here is the recipe for the beautiful flapjacks my friend made on Sunday. This recipe is definitely a keeper and will be perfect for taking on country walks, with cups of tea on rainy days, anytime...
160g butter 160g brown sugar 120g golden syrup 1/2 tsp salt 260g porridge oats 70g chopped dried apricots 50g dried cranberries 50g pumpkin seeds 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line and grease a 20cm tin. In a saucepan melt together the butter, sugar, syrup and salt. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir in the butter and syrup mixture. Spoon the mixture into the tin and press down with a potato masher to level the surface. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Store in the fridge and cut into bars to serve.
Honestly, these are so yummy. If you have the ingredients in your cupboard, make them now! Honestly. The cranberries and seeds just elevate it from being a normal flapjack to an Olympic Gold Medal Flapjack :)
I have had such a lovely weekend, although it's taken me a couple of days to recover from it.
On Saturday, I drove up to the Peak District to meet my lovely friend from University and meet her little daughter for the first time. Even though I havent seen her for 3 years, we were chatting away as if it had just been a couple of months ago. It's great when that happens, isnt it.
We went to a softplay called Chucklebutties in Belper, North Derbyshire. Honestly, this is the best softplay I have ever been to and its well worth driving for an hour an a half to get there. It has a huge glass window, overlooking the Derwent River Gardens. There is a huge weir or waterfall thing literally straight out of the window, so while the little ones are letting rip on the softplay, you can gaze out of the window, eat your homemade cake, sip on a cappucino and read the papers. Bliss. That's my kind of softplay, not the ones in a warehouse with no natural light that stink of wee wee!
Then we fed the ducks, walked along the river, did some train spotting with my little boy and ate ice creams.
I got home about 5pm, pretty weary. Then 5 minutes later I got a call from a friend, asking if I would like a free VIP ticket to see the Inspiral carpets and the Happy Mondays. Err..yes! So I quickly leapt into the back, threw on my party clothes and drove to the gig. (I barely drink these days, and didnt fancy a hangover the next day). As I drove down the motorway, the car started kangarooing and lost all power. Very scary! But luckily I made it to the gig on time and had a great time boogying away with a whole clubfull of late 30s/ 40 somethings. Quite a strange experience. But Ive got to say, the Happy Mondays were great and I'm looking forward to dancing with my husband and kids at camp bestival when they headline on the Sunday.
On Sunday, I went to my friend's cake bake in aid of Multiple Sclerosis. Wow, that kid is absolutely amazing in the kitchen. I dont think I've ever tasted such gorgeous cakes! I will share a couple of her recipes with you later in the week.
Then on Sunday afternoon, I received an email from the rather gorgeous Nic, at the Strawberry Blonde Beauty Blog, to say that I had won a lovely box of bath oils to help me sleep! Ive only entered 2 blog giveaways and so far I've won both. Beginners luck...
Then yesterday, whilst doing the school run, my car totally broke down and a lovely RAC man fixed it for me. It turns out I was extremely lucky that I didnt break down a) alone with the kids in the Peak District or b) alone on Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham on Saturday Night. As it worked out, I dropped my daughter off at school and popped to Costa while waiting for the RAC man to come. How lucky am I!
Going to music festivals has been a big part of my life for the past 18 years, first Glastonbury before the kids, then Big Chill Festival when we had our first child and now Camp Bestival, as we have 2 children of different ages.
I was very chuffed to be asked to write a guest post on a very big blog, athomewithmrsm, about this subject and it appeared earlier this week.
I cant say it's always easy taking your children to festivals. In fact, as times it is blooming hard work! But as a family it gives us something we all can enjoy together. Time to play, time to dance, time to hear great music, time to be silly, time to be with friends.
I'm going to write a series of blog posts, with advice about how to get the most out of your festival with the kiddies.
For me, the main areas I consider when at a family festival are very similar to when I'm at home.
Firstly, sleep. This is really important because if your child doesn't sleep, they will be knackered and grumpy and everyone will have a rubbish time! We learned this lesson to our cost last year, when our excited 6 year old had about 5 hours sleep the night before Camp Bestival and was an absolute hysterical mess by the time we arrived. So things that help here are eyemasks, earplugs if your child will tolerate them, warm bedtime clothes with thermals underneath, a hat, hot water bottles and a proper bedtime routine for young children.
What we do is take the children back to the tent around their regular bedtime and let them have a bit of quiet time. Do the usual bedtime wash, story, milk, pyjamas, teeth and bed and then put them down to sleep in their cot or bed. Once they have had a decent sleep for an hour or two, we lift them up, put them into a buggy with their ear defenders on, or cotton wool in their ears if they wont tolerate the ear defenders, Then cover up the buggy with a sunshade and cover with an dark blanket, so that their sleeping environment is warm, quiet and dark. We also add battery powered LED fairy lights around the pushchair, which prevents drunken adults or lively children from running into it.
In terms of pyjamas, my little one wears a fleece sleepsuit with feet in it and a long sleeved vest. My daughter (age 7), wears a long sleeved thermal top and trousers, leggings, wellies and a pyjama top under her fleece jacket. She tends to go to bed at 7.30, sleep until the headline act comes on, then she wakes up, dances for an hour and goes back to sleep in her trolley. Once we get back to the tent, she's already in her pyjamas, so we just take off her coat and wellies and pop her straight into bed.
This brings me to the next festival essential- a trolley. If you go to Camp Bestival, you will see literally hundreds of these things being dragged around by weary looking Dads. It is now possible to hire trolleys from companies like Mr Trolley, which also raises money for Amnesty International.
If you plan on going to loads of festivals, it's probably worth buying your own. There are lots of different options.
1. Radio Flyer wagon (picture courtesy of funkyleisure.co.uk)
From seeing these at festivals, they are lots of fun and look really cool, but you are a bit limited as to how much stuff you can pack in around your child. You will need a comfy mat underneath your child, a pillow, blankets/ sheepskin, a picnic mat, waterproofs, juice, nappies, bubble swords, fairy wings, ear defenders and drinks/ snacks in there!
2. Wooden cart (image from ebay.co.uk)
We have one of these, it is light, cheap, sturdy, easy to decorate and has a raincover which can be attached. Ours is painted blue, decorated with stars and varnish to waterproof it. However, my eldest is now starting to look a bit cramped in it, so we have to take the end off to allow her to stretch out her legs. Not ideal really in the middle of a crowd of dancing people.
3. Metal garden trolley (image from charliesdirect.co.uk)
This is the sort of trolley that you see for hire and is very popular with families with 2 or more children. You can fold down one of the sides and use it as a sofa when you are watching bands, they are very sturdy and can cope with being rained on. However, although my husband can pull it along, there is no way that I would be able to pull one of these up a muddy hill with 2 children and their gear in it, so it wouldn't work for me.
So there's pros and cons to all of them really.
If money was no object, I would be very tempted by a wagon from Bolderigo, which is a lightweight, collapsible wagon which can comfortably fit 2 children. Unfortunately, they cost £250 plus postage. I am trying to do a bit of a "cost per use" justification, but it is still a lot of money. I might sell my pushchair to fund one.
The other one which I think looks totally awesome is the Ulfbo trolley, which has two seats, a raincover and a suncover.
If you have any other festival tips for sleeping, I'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment :)
Last night, I went out with my husband and our friend to see Quantic and Alice Russell play at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham. It is very rare that we go out, but we've found some friendly neighbours who are happy to swap babysitting duties, so off we went. It still feels very strange getting dressed up in my going out clothes! I wore a sparkly dark blue, vintage dress, my purple Dr Marten's Triumph boots with ribbon laces and my leggings. And lots of sparkly dark grey eyeshadow.
The gig was absolutely fantastic. Alice Russell literally has the soulful voice of an angel and close up, she sounds even better than on the CD. Quantic play Columbian music, so a violin, accordion, double bass, congas and a drumkit make up the band, which has a Latin, swingy, funky sound to it. The whole room was jam packed full of people dancing and I felt a bit like a boil in the bag chicken in my 60s polyester dress! But we danced our socks and wiggled our hips off until 12.45am.
Here is one of their latest singles
So we got home just after 1am, chatted to the babysitter, had a cup of tea, went to bed at 2am and then I just couldnt drop off becuase I was feeling so hyper. Then at 6.30am, my darling son woke up, so I got up and started playing Thomas the Tank with him. Then my daughter got up and asked if we could make a Princess Peach costume for a fancy dress parade at Camp Bestival (it's an Olympic theme this year, so we are all going to dress up as Mario characters). Actually I think I've done quite a good job, using a pink pillowcase, some bright pink sparkly fabric and lots of adrenaline...
I was full of beans at this point, but by 10.30 I was flagging, so my husband kindly made me breakfast, sent me to bed and took the children out for the day.
Do you think I can sleep? Nope. Not even a powernap.
I was just the same when the children were babies. No matter how tired I was, how deranged with sleep deprivation, I just cant do daytime sleeping. Thank goodness I'm not hungover.
The house is quiet, so I've had a shower with some mega strong mint and teatree shower gel, am going to drink about 10 cups of tea now and am chilling out to Tim Minchin and his desert island discs whilst catching up on some lovely blogs.
Early bed for me tonight I think. Hope you had a great bank holiday weekend x
There is an amazingly cool Mum at the school gates, with a rockabilly quiff, bright red hair and huge biker boots. I'm sure that would be a common occurence if you live somewhere bohemian like Brighton or Glastonbury, but not so much in the Birmingham suburbs! Anyway, it turns out that her partner plays the double bass in Imelda May. I know the band a bit, but as I was feeling curious I did a quick search on youtube and I found this song. I love it, it makes me want to leap around in a muddy field with a glass of wine in my hand!
Imelda May- Johnny Got a Boom Boom
I wonder if they could be persuaded to play a gig at the school fete next month? I especially love this song because I used to play the double bass at school. I was inspired to start lessons because a) all the guitar lessons were full and b) I had seen the Every Breath You Take video by Sting and I thought I would be able to play stuff like that. Unfortunately I gave it up after 5 years, I wonder if I carried on if I would have had the chance to play funky tunes like this instead of Star Wars and Ode to Joy?
This weekend, we've got some fun ahead. On Saturday, I have volunteered to take part in a Gardening party at school. Not the Pimms and cucumber sandwiches variety, more aggressively tackling the raised vegetable beds and clearing the weeds. I'm quite looking forward to it. Hope the weather is kind to us though.
Then we are meeting our friends for a picnic and mountain bike in the park and on Sunday we are going to see a gig! Very excited about that.
Hope that you have lovely things planned for the weekend.